Federal officials have issues pet food recalls warning consumers and veterinarians to be on alert for potentially deadly hyperthyroidism. The three separate alerts, posted Monday by the Food and Drug Administration, include test results from three dogs and samples of “BLUE Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs” and/or “Wellness 95% Beef Topper for Dogs.”
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include excessive thirst and urination, weight loss, increased appetite, restlessness, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, rapid and/or labored breathing, vomiting, and diarrhea. Continued exposure to excess thyroid hormones can cause damage to the heart and in some cases, death.
Three dogs of different ages, sexes, and breeds, including a 4-year-old Shetland sheepdog, 8-year-old Tibetan terrier, and 15-year-old Labrador retriever, presented with various clinical signs of hyperthyroidism such as increased thirst, increased urination, restless behavior and weight loss, according to the FDA alert for veterinarians.
Given the limited number of reported cases, there may be a spectrum of possible results in the thyroid panel that could be associated with consumption of dog food containing thyroid hormones.
Based on the recommendation of the reference lab’s consulting veterinarian, the feeding of these dog foods was discontinued. After the dogs stopped eating these products for a few weeks, their clinical signs disappeared and thyroid hormone levels returned to normal. An FDA lab tested unopened cans of BLUE Wilderness® Rocky Mountain Recipe TM Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs and Wellness 95% Beef Topper for Dogs and confirmed that they contained active thyroid hormone. The source of thyroid hormones is likely from the use of gullets from which the thyroid glands were not completely removed before adding to pet food or treats.
After consulting with the FDA, both WellPet (the maker of Wellness) and Blue Buffalo (the maker of Blue Wilderness) initiated voluntary recalls of select lots of the affected products on March 17, 2017.
WellPet voluntarily recalled of certain lots of 13.2 ounce cans of Wellness 95% Beef Topper for Dogs with best-by dates of 02 FEB 19, 29 AUG 19, and 30 AUG 19 printed on the bottom of the can. The UPC Code is 076344894506.
Blue Buffalo Company voluntarily recalled of one lot of 12.5-ounce cans BLUE Wilderness® Rocky Mountain Recipe TM Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs with a best-by date of June 7, 2019 printed on the bottom of the can. The UPC code is 840243101153.
The FDA appreciates the cooperation and swift action taken by both firms to address this issue. If your dog has eaten either of these foods and is showing symptoms of hyperthyroidism, discontinue feeding of these foods and consult your veterinarian, making sure to provide your dog’s dietary history, including what the dog has been eating, how much, and for how long.
Consumers who have any of the recalled food should not feed it to their animals and can refer to the company press releases for further instructions about returns/refunds.
Questions about whether a particular pet food or pet treat product contains livestock gullets and/or thyroid hormones should be directed to the product manufacturer.
Recommendations for pet food industry
If a thyroid gland is not completely removed from a gullet and that gullet is then added to pet food or treats, remnant thyroid tissue could be a source of thyroid hormones. One way to be certain that there are no traces of thyroid in pet food is to avoid the use of livestock gullets, according to the FDA’s industry alert.
Suppliers can ensure that they have fully removed thyroid glands from gullets before providing them to manufacturers. The FDA recommends consulting industry trade organizations, such as the Pet Food Institute or the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for best practices and advice.
Manufacturers should carefully assess their suppliers’ practices and take steps to ensure that they are receiving raw materials and ingredients that do not contain thyroid hormone secreting tissue. If you suspect that there is a problem with your product or supply, the best course of action is to assess your products and practices, consulting the FDA as needed.